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St. Nicholas Day in the Netherlands

 

St. Nicholas is a real and ancient saint of the Christian church whose feast day, known as St. Nicholas Day is December 6th.

A few weeks before St. Nicholas Day, Sinterklass and his Moorish helper, Zwarte Piet, which means "Black Pete", arrive from Spain in Amsterdam, Holland. They are greeted by the Royal Family. Sinterklass is dressed in his long red bishop's robes, wears a mantle and carries a crozier.  In his hand he carries a large red book of names. He talks to the crowds of people, who are there to welcome him, about the behavior of their children during the past year. 

Families prepare traditional evening feasts on the Eve of St. Nicholas Day, which is December 5th. Sometimes, Sinterklaas pays a surprise visit to the houses after dinner! 

A traditional windmill cookie is baked for St. Nicholas Day, and you can still buy these cookies in Holland, Michigan!

Before the children go to bed, they fill their wooden shoes with hay and sugar or a carrot for Sinterklass's white horse. 

Later on the night of December 5th, Sinterklaas takes his book of names and, dressed in his long red robes trimmed in white fur, goes out with Zwarte Piet in the nighttime delivering gifts to the good children. The bad children are said to get a lump of coal and the naughtiest of the children might get stuffed into his bag and taken back to Spain!  What a scary thought!

They wake up in the morning to find their shoes filled with nuts and candies, and a small bag of chocolate coins wrapped in gold paper -- or a lump of coal!

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